Kathy Frankovic, Tuesday’s presidential debate — despite its flaws — underscored the differences between the two candidates, not least on coronavirus. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted before the debate began, shows these differences reflected among each candidate’s base on measures to combat the disease.
Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden wears a mask in public. President Donald Trump often does not. On Tuesday, the President (after displaying the mask he carried with him) criticized Biden wearing a mask — as he described it, “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
The two candidates’ supporters take similar positions and agree with their respective candidates about the value of masks. Some of the President’s supporters reject wearing a mask entirely: 10% say they never wear a mask, and indeed virtually everyone who claims to never wear a mask says they will vote for the President.
Almost no Biden supporters say the same. In fact, more than seven in 10 who plan to vote for the Democrat say they “always” wear a mask outside their home, something just a third of Trump supporters do.
On social distancing, 41% of Trump supporters say it is safe enough today to stop social distancing entirely, something just 1% of Biden supporters agree with.
Federal mandates on mask wearing are another divisive issue. For most of the President’s supporters, a mask mandate is viewed as a violation of their civil liberties. The two sets of voters could not be much farther apart than they are on this question: 58% of the President’s supporters say a requirement to wear a mask violates their civil liberties while just 4% of Biden’s supporters say the same.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 registered voters interviewed online between September 27 – 30, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.8% for the overall sample.